Migration & Citizensip: Asylum Seekers’ Identity Formations & Implications for an independent Scotland and UK Brexit?

This paper draws from a PhD research conducted in 2008/09 among asylum seekers and refugees residing in Scotland. The study explored the relationship between  asylum seekers and refugees’ citizenship formations and the perceived importance of the UK news media in this processes. The data was generated by in-depth semi-structured interviews among twenty-three asylum seekers and refugees who live in Glasgow and Edinburgh between 1970 and 2006. Although the research was conducted before the Scottish Independent  and Brexit Referendums, the paper employs its findings on interviewees’ practices, expectations and forms of belonging and identity to forecast on immigrants’ membership in an independent Scotland and UK Brexit. The papers’ core argument is that, Scottish independence in contrast to UK Brexit would create a rights-based citizenship and a ‘civic’ notion of Scottish identity, which would be favourable to immigrants’ claims to territorial,  ‘hyphenated’ and transnational identities. Consideration of this hypothesis will be undergirded by the favourable asylum policies that have been adopted by successive Scottish Governments in tandem with using inward migration to address a skills shortage and ageing population in Scotland. The cross-party political consensus is in contrast to a lack of a rights-based citizenship that perpetuates asylum seekers and refugees’ structural inequalities under successive UK Governments, and  the current anti-immigration policy articulated by Brexit political elites. The paper’s analytical extrapolation is significant in strengthening the call for a sociological analysis of ethnic minority would-be citizens’ negotiation of membership, contestations and constructions of mainstream identities in multicultural democracies in the West (Nagel, 2009).

Amadu Wurie Khan (International Commission on Survivor-Centered Disaster Recovery (ICSCDR), and The Welcoming Association, Edinburgh)


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